Top 5 places to hike near Charlotte, plus a guide to their best trails

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This article was updated August 2018.

Sometimes, you need to get out of a concrete jungle and back into nature. Here are 5 places to do it within an hour and a half of Charlotte.


Crowders Mountain State Park

While most of us have seen the view from Kings Pinnacle on Instagram, there are actually 11 trails for hikers to enjoy, ranging from easy to strenuous.

Find it: 522 Park Office Lane, Kings Mountain (40 minutes from Uptown)

Admission fee: Free

Three trails to try: 

Lake Trail – 2.1-mile roundtrip hike good for kids; easy. Rated 4 stars on AllTrails and noted for being good for hiking and leashed dogs.

Ridgeline Trail – 6.2 miles one-way and visits Kings Mountain State Park and Military Park; moderate. Rated 4 stars on AllTrails, noted for trail running and views.

Rocktop Trail – Difficult, 1.4-mile one-way trail crossing several rock ledges; strenuous. Rated 4.5 stars on AllTrails and noted for being less traveled and having excellent views.


Kings Mountain

Kings Mountain offers both a South Carolina State Park and a National Military Park. While the trails below are part of the military park, the state park offers a living farm, fishing, boating and special events.

@shirlkaz via Instagram

Find it: 1277 Park Road, Blacksburg, South Carolina (45 minutes from Uptown)

Admission fee: Free, but hikers should register at the visitors center before heading out

Three trails to try:

Kings Mountain Hiking Trail – 16-mile loop through rolling hills and granite outcroppings through a hardwood forest along a stream that visits a fire tower and horse trail; moderate. Rated 4 stars on AllTrails and noted for being kid- and dog-friendly.

Living History Farm Trail – 1.5-mile out-and-back trail that visits a two-story farmhouse, barn, smokehouse, cotton gin and more; easy.

Clarks Creek Trail – 6-mile out-and-back trail that visits Clarks Creek, a picnic area and more; moderate.


Lake Norman State Park

We all know about the sandbar, but did you know there are hiking trails circling the lake?

Find it: 759 State Park Road, Troutman (50 minutes from Uptown)

Admission fee: Free

Three trails to try:

Alder Trail – .8-mile stroll with lake views and picnic spots; easy. Rated 4.5 stars on AllTrails and noted for being kid-friendly and offering good lake views.

Hawk Loop – 2.7-mile loop that’s part of the larger 30.5-mile Itusi Trail loop and is often used by mountain bikers; moderate. Rated 4.5 stars on AllTrails and noted as kid-friendly, good for birding and okay for leashed dogs.

Lake Shore Trail – 6.2-mile out-and-back trail on a footpath along the shore; moderate. Rated 4.5 stars on AllTrails and noted for its wildflowers, fishing options and views.


Stone Mountain State Park

With a nine-trail network that hits waterfalls, trout streams and dramatic overlooks, it’s worth the car time.

@andrewgbatten via Instagram

Find it: 3042 Frank Parkway, Roaring Gap (90 minutes from Uptown)

Admission fee: Free

Three trails to try:

Middle Falls/Lower Falls Trail – 1-mile out-and-back trail featuring a waterfall; moderate. Rated 4 stars on AllTrails and noted as being good for walking, nature trips and birding.

Wolf Rock Trail – 3-mile out-and-back trail that visits Garden Creek, Widow’s Creek and Bullhead Creek; moderate. Rated 4.5 stars on AllTrails and noted for being kid-friendly and offering views and wildlife.

Stone Mountain Loop Trail – 4.5-mile loop visiting the summit of Stone Mountain, the Hutchinson Homestead and a waterfall; strenuous. Rated 4.5 stars on AllTrails and noted for views, wildflowers and being good for leashed dogs.


U.S. National Whitewater Center

The USNWC has more than 20 miles of trails waiting to be explored with your pet, so long as it’s on a leash. They’re also good for biking and running.

Find it: 5000 Whitewater Center Parkway, Charlotte (25 minutes from Uptown). Connect on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Admission fee: Free ($6 to park)

Three trails to try:

Lake Loop – Three miles around the lake; easy.

North Main – Three-mile trail behind the rafting course offering both tight lines within the woods and walking near the lake; moderate.

Figure 8 – One-mile trail near the Channel Loop; strenuous.

Header photo of Crowders Mountain via Instagram

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